Tag Archives: League 1

Accrington Stanley vs Doncaster Rovers – Preview

So it begins again. The joy, sorrow and insanity of the football season. 46 games over 9 months where only a few things are certain: we are going to moan, we are going to be very cold, and at the end of it all, whether we finish 1st or 24th, we’re going to be wishing our summer away begging for it to come back so we can do it all over again.

This year, we’ve wished our summers away so that we can wake up on Saturday morning and cross the country to go to Accrington. Call us mad they may, but this promises to be a great occasion with many intriguing questions set to be answered. How will the Rovers adapt to life back in the basement tier? Will Accrington be as formidable as they were last term? Will we actually have eleven men fit to play in the game?

That last one has been the main talking point over the last couple of weeks. A ludicrous run of bad luck has befallen the club before a ball has even been kicked in a competitive setting, with no less than four players going off injured in a friendly with Newcastle and several more hitting the treatment room, severely depleting the manager’s available resources.

New defensive maestro Mathieu Baudry will not have recovered from an achilles injury in time to make his debut at Accrington, whilst fellow new boy Joe Wright is also a fitness concern. Long serving midfielder Paul Keegan is also out, as is Gary McSheffrey. Joe Wright may be fit to make his debut against his former club, and there should also be Rovers bows for Matty Blair and John Marquis. Luke McCullough joins all those previously mentioned on the treatment table with a season ending injury.

Another Accrington old boy now in the hoops, or rather not in the hoops as he’s a goalkeeper, is Ross Etheridge. The young stopper impressed in the Stanley side that surprised everyone to make the play offs last season, and looks certain to be the new first choice between the sticks for Darren Ferguson this season.

Accrington themselves have been busy replenishing their squad this summer after losing several key men, including Etheridge. Josh Windass and Matt Crooks have departed north of the border to Rangers, with Arron Davies and Elliot Parish coming in to the new look squad, among others. Manager John Coleman has a tough task to emulate the superb efforts of his team in 2015/16, but only time will tell if they are up to that challenge.

Both sides will field unfamiliar line-ups this weekend that will need time to gel together, but it is always an exciting time of year when the season gets underway so hold on to that hope, and tell yourself that it can’t possibly go as wrong as it did last year.

Adam Stubbings

Doncaster Rovers – 2015/16 Season Review

In the absence of any kind of official means for the DRSG to decide on a player of the year, we instead bring you a season review in which every player will be judged. It might not be pretty…

Goalkeepers

 

Thorsten Stuckmann

Appearances: 43

Clean Sheets: 9

Before the sacking of Paul Dickov, when Rovers barely looked like a football team, Stuckmann was consistently Rovers best player. Had we still had someone like Gary Woods in goal we could easily have been cut adrift a lot earlier.

The 35 year old came highly thought of at Preston and until high profile mistakes against Shrewsbury and Peterborough he was a shoo in for player of the season. Remi Matthews came in, Rovers promptly lost 4-1 at Colchester and the rest is history.

Season Rating: 7/10

Should we keep him?

I would be happy to see Stuckmann given one more season either as back up or as number 1 but the fact that he was left out of the match day squad for the final game of the season doesn’t bode well.

Remi Matthews

Appearances: 9

Clean Sheets: 2

It was a puzzling decision by Darren Ferguson to cast aside the experienced Thorsten Stuckmann in favour of a 22 year old with a grand total of 1 league appearance to his name. Despite being a decent shot stopper, Matthews was never convincing and his terrible performance in a 2-2 draw at Rochdale was at least as damaging as anything that Stuckmann did.

Season Rating: 5/10

Should we keep him?

Matthews is still learning and could probably do a job in league 2 but it would have to be on loan again as Norwich are unlikely to want to lose a young goalkeeper.

Defenders

 

Mitchell Lund

Appearances: 37

Goals: 2

Academy product Lund was surely only ever supposed to be a stop gap. The fact that he has gone on to feature in 30+ games is a testament to how dramatically both Paul Dickov and Darren Ferguson have failed in their remit to have at least one capable player in each position.

Lund has improved slightly but is still shaky defensively as well offering little going forward.

Season Rating: 5/10

Should we keep him?

Even dropping down a league, Lund has a lot of improving to do but given how  Rovers have struggled to find a decent full back in recent years, he has an opportunity to make the right back spot his own. Just about deserves a chance to prove his worth.

Andy Butler

Appearances: 47

Goals: 4

Whilst all around him have been emphatically losing their heads, Andy Butler has been a calming presence at the back. Butler has been let down by his clownish defensive counterparts and he is unlucky to find himself a League 2 footballer. Our best defender by a country mile.

Season Rating: 7/10

Should we keep him?

Make him captain, offer him a new contract, and give him the key to the city. Whatever it takes to keep Andy Butler at Doncaster Rovers next season is worth it. He will be vital to any promotion hopes Rovers harbour for next season.

Luke McCullough

Appearances: 36

Goals: 0

A supposed defender who can’t tackle, has terrible positioning and isn’t particularly strong in the air. The only surprise is that it has taken this long for someone to realize this man can no longer be allowed to play in defence.

Darren Ferguson moved McCullough into a holding midfield role and to be fair he has mostly excelled, salvaging an otherwise terrible season. Also possibly the worst right back I have ever seen. Let us never speak of that again.

Season Rating: 4/10

Should we keep him?

As a centre back? Absolutely not. As a ball playing deep lying midfielder? Probably. Still not the finished article but has a strong range of passing that could set him apart from other League 2 midfield players.

Craig Alcock

Appearances: 29

Goals: 0

You know it has been a bad season when a defender with more red cards than goals who didn’t even sign until November is voted as player of the year by local journalists. Having said that Alcock has been solid when utilized as a centre back alongside Butler and the two could form a formidable partnership at the back next season.

Season Rating: 6/10

Should we keep him?

Definitely. A 28 year old defender with bags of experience should not be sniffed at.

Aaron Taylor-Sinclair

Appearances: 49

Goals: 2

ATS has come in for a lot of stick this season and rightly so. Despite looking ok for about three games and coming with a decent pedigree, he has been shockingly unreliable to the point where I would say he is one of the worst left backs to have ever graced the Keepmoat Stadium. Definitely our worst player this season. Barely a footballer at times.

Season Rating: 2/10

Should we keep him?

Under no circumstances. ATS should be the first to go.

Cedric Evina

Appearances: 49

Goals: 1

Showed early season promise when played in a more advanced role by Paul Dickov but soon reverted to type when asked to do any kind of defending. Has a penchant for buffoonish individual errors.

Season Rating: 4/10

Should we keep him?

Evina has a go and is less responsible than others for our current predicament but he has only played for Rovers when they have been terrible and you get the feeling he is more part of the problem than the solution. Good luck to him but time to go.

Gary MacKenzie

Appearances: 20

Goals: 0

Not trusted by two different managers despite ongoing woes on the pitch.

Season Rating: 3/10

Should we keep him?

No. We shouldn’t have signed him in the first place actually.

James Horsfield – One of the many square pegs forced into the round hole shaped right back role. Very average.

Rob Jones – Always injured and getting on but he would have been a welcome influence during that 16 game winless run.

Midfielders

 

James Coppinger

Appearances: 44

Goals: 3

Mr Doncaster Rovers had a poor start to the season and was earning his starting berth on reputation alone in the opening weeks. The arrival of Darren Ferguson saw a drastic upturn in fortune for Copps. A injury saw him in and out of the side and the fact that he waour finest creative outlet in midfield probably says more about his peers than the man himself. Moments of brilliance, mostly solid but not consistent enough.

Season Rating: 6/10

Should we keep him?

Would be daft not to, even if it is someone to bring on as a different option against tired defenders. Shouldn’t be captain though. Was an odd choice to begin with.

Richard Chaplow

Appearances: 30

Goals: 2

As a player with premier league experience who once cost £1.5 million, much was expected from Richard Chaplow. What a disappointment. Apart from his winner against Barnsley and a couple of decent games the season has almost completely passed Chaplow by. His tally of 10 yellow cards in 30 games is his only meaningful contribution.

Season Rating: 3/10

Should we keep him?

Doesn’t seem to have the commitment or the ability to justify his wages. Get rid.

Harry Middleton

Appearances: 41

Goals: 0

As you would expect from young Harold Middleton he showed signs of great promise whilst also looking occasionally out of his depth. Overall a good breakthrough season and one of our better performers.

Season Rating: 6/10

Should we keep him?

Next season will be make or break for Middleton but he has earned his chance to prove himself.

Paul Keegan

Appearances: 18

Goals: 1

When Paul Keegan burst back into the side at the Pirelli Stadium with a free kick that took us all by surprise it felt like a turning point for the Irish midfielder. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Despite being touted as a potential captain and a leader, Keegan disappointingly went missing at the start of our rotten run before promptly getting injured.

Season Rating: 5/10

Should we keep him?

Will always be remembered fondly by Rovers fans for his robust style of play but simply can’t maintain his fitness. An unattractive trait for a club with a small budget. Thanks for the memories Keegs but time to go.

Richie Wellens

Appearances: 16

Goals: 0

Whether a disruptive influence or not it was a puzzling decision to allow both Rob Jones and Richie Wellens to leave a club so obviously lacking in leaders. Having said that Wellens looked past it and disinterested before leaving the club on loan.

Season Rating: 3/10

Conor Grant

Appearances: 22

Goals: 4

Looked like Alick Jeffrey, Colin Cramb and Lewis Guy all rolled into one in his first few games but was soon dragged down by the dross around him. As you would expect from one so young he went into hiding when Rovers lost form and it was no great loss when his injury forced a return to his parent club.

Season Rating: 6/10

Should we keep him?

Obviously there is no chance in us signing for us permanently but would be welcomed back with open arms in a loan deal.

Cameron Stewart

Appearances: 28

Goals: 4

Was never given a chance by Dickov and then didn’t fit into Ferguson’s wing back system. Stewart is obviously a talented player, shame he didn’t start more games.

Season Rating: 7/10

Should we keep him?

Would be unlikely to move into League 2 with anyone, never mind to reunite with a manager who never played him. Best for both parties to move on.

Tommy Rowe

Appearances: 10

Goals: 3

A touch of class in his brief loan spell. If we had signed him earlier instead of Lynden Gooch of Eddy Lecygne we could well have stayed up.

Season Rating: 8/10

Should we keep him?

After Butler, signing Rowe in some capacity should be our first priority. Seems unlikely but what a statement of intent it would be. Time for the board to show us some of this ambition they are always banging on about.

Eddy Lecygne – His single appearances cements his statement as a future quiz question.

Dany N’Guessan – The epitome of a shit lower league journeyman footballer. Kindly take your journey elsewhere next season.

Strikers

 

Nathan Tyson

Appearances: 36

Goals: 7

Last season’s player of the season never really got going this year barring a brief spell at the start of Fergie’s reign. Combined well with Andy Williams for a few games before they started playing like two people who had never lied eyes on each other before.

Season Rating: 6/10

Should we keep him?

Tough one. Looks he is staying following a contract renewal but could we do better than a 34 year old perma crock? Probably worth one more season based on desire alone. Also THAT hat trick against the Scunts…

Andy Williams

Appearances: 53

Goals: 16

Andy Williams season can be described in 3 words. Crap. Brilliant. Crap. Seems to offer nothing at all when not scoring and desperately needs to find some confidence from somewhere.

Season Rating: 6/10

Should we keep him?

100%. Could rip it up in League 2 if he finds his rhythm. Williams turns 30 in August and perhaps more than anyone else in this team he has something to prove. His shaky start at Doncaster Rovers will be forgotten if he fires us to promotion next season. No pressure…

Lynden Gooch – Never looked good enough. Pampered youth players from Premier League clubs are rarely the answer in a relegation battle.

Keshi Anderson – Oh what could have been. Come back soon Keshi.

Curtis Main – Had a brilliant season… for Oldham Athletic.

Doncaster Rovers vs Burton Albion – Report

Rovers relegation mathematically confirmed in forgettable game of football…

  • Darren Ferguson took the opportunity to give youth a chance with his starting line up with both Harry Middleton and Liam Mandeville included. More puzzling was the inclusion of loanee Remi Matthews. With Stuckmann not even in the squad is this the end for the popular keeper?
  • As well as Stuckmann, James Coppinger and Cedric Evina were also left out, although that was presumably to give an opportunity for Will Longbottom and Matty Davies to appear on the bench.
  • The game started at walking pace and never really got into second gear with both sides struggling to get hold of the ball. Without Coppinger, Rovers only creative outlet was a frustrated looking Tommy Rowe. Chaplow should have been the other attacking force in midfield but he was anonymous until being deservedly subbed just after the hour mark. I don’t think anyone would be too bothered if that is Chaplow’s last contribution in a Rovers shirt.
  • The sides went in at half time 0-0 and with Burton’s promotion rivals Walsall winning 3-0 it promised to be a nervy second half for the Brewers.
  • Rovers fans hoping that Aaron Taylor-Sinclair had decided to spontaneously retire from football were left disappointed to find that he was only injured. That injury left Rovers with 10 men on the field with Ferguson having already made all his subs and effectively ended the match as a contest.
  • From there the game played out like an exhibition match, especially when an injury to Riccardo Calder reduced Rovers to 9 men. This was the most Nigel Clough promotion ever, a 0-0 draw against 9 men. Congratulations I guess?
  • On a serious note nobody can deny Burton their day in the sun and it was nice to see them celebrating at the final whistle. Successive promotions for a club of their size is a phenomenal achievement and along with Leicester and Northampton they have set a wonderful example for teams punching above their weight financially.
  • Quite what some Rovers fans were doing on the pitch is anyone’s guess however. In other news, their next planned acts of rebellion include staying up past their bedtime and refusing to do their homework.

Winners

Rovers Youth Players – One group who may benefit from our relegation is the academy players. It is unlikely in the extreme that Lund, Middleton, Mandeville et al would have played much part next season had we stayed in league 1 but they all have a chance to cement their place in the starting XI next season now. Mandeville will have to stop looking like a competition winner and start to resemble a footballer at some point if he wants to play more of a part however.

Will Longbottom – The latest academy player to make his debut looked lively until Rovers went down to 9 men. Let’s hope he becomes more than just a quiz question.

The Black Bank – Whilst it continues to attract an unsavoury element, on the whole the Black Bank has been a raging success this season. Credit to all involved. They deserve better.

Losers

Fans Of Last Day Drama – One of the worst spectacles I can ever remember at the Keepmoat, and in front of the Sky cameras no less. What an advert for League 1 football…

Rovers Players – The fact that Rovers finished the season unbeaten against the top 2 is a further testament to how ludicrous it is that we have been relegated. Let’s hope Darren Ferguson’s promised clear out comes to fruition. They are a thoroughly rotten bunch.

The Board – Thanks for my free drink. I would have preferred a reduction on my obscenely priced season ticket though.

 

 

Doncaster Rovers vs Burton Albion – Preview

‘There are no meaningless games’ is an oft repeated mantra in the changing rooms of football teams all over the country. For Doncaster Rovers however, the result of the last game of the season truly means absolutely nothing.

Following the embarrassing capitulation at Gresty Road, Rovers find themselves all but relegated with a game to spare. An absurd turn of events considering our league position at the turn of the year.

The outrage and bile directed at the players following the final whistle on Saturday was as deserved as it was telling. We have had enough. We have had enough of inept managers and ‘competitive budgets’. We have had enough of rubbish football and dreadful home form. We have had enough of calamitous defending and goal shy strikers. We have had enough of lost boys wearing our clubs badge on their shirt whilst leaders and men are allowed to leave to join our relegation rivals. Enough is enough.

The result doesn’t matter on Sunday. Any pride that could have been salvaged from this season is long gone. What does matter is the fans and picking up the pieces of a broken club. Despite everyone except Marko Marosi being out of contract, you would expect wholesale changes in the summer so for a lot of players this is the last chance for them to make any kind of mark at the Keepmoat stadium no matter how insignificant.

Things couldn’t be more different for our opponents who will be hoping to celebrate an unlikely promotion. Burton only need a draw to secure promotion to the Championship for the first time in their history and their party atmosphere will be in stark contrast to the dour, fatalist, silent depression favoured by the Rovers faithful.

Mark Duffy scored a dramatic equalizer in a 3-3 draw when the two sides met at the Pirelli Stadium earlier in the season and he will be hoping to replicate his man of the match performance on his return to the Keepmoat on Sunday. Darren Ferguson’s starting XI is unclear but sure to start are two awful full backs, at least one disinterested midfielder and various other shrugs in human form who could well be on the road to non-league football if they don’t learn how to apply themselves.

Match Prediction DRFC 1-3 Burton Albion (Williams)

I have predicted Williams to score in pretty much every one of the last 18 games and he has rewarded me with 1 goal during that period. Cheers Andy. So for the last time this season; Andy Williams to score, let’s say from 30 yards. Go crazy. In reality, expect an easy Burton victory. They are just miles better than us.

Doncaster Rovers vs Crewe Alexandra – Report

The fat lady finally sings. A fitting end to a wretched season…

  • The starting line up yielded no surprises and whilst it is of course disconcerting to see Evina and Lund operating at full back, the quality within the squad is so poor that Darren Ferguson unfortunately didn’t have much choice. It was this inherent lack of ability that would eventually cost Rovers.
  • Rovers started off brightly against a Crewe side who looked every inch like a team at the bottom of the table with nothing to play for. Alex were there for the taking and had Donny played at 20% of what they are capable of it would have been an easy victory.
  • It was no surprise then Rovers went 1-0 as Tommy Rowe slammed home from the edge of the box. Rowe was a threat every time he had the ball in the first half and combined well with both Coppinger and Williams. If only we had signed him earlier into the season.
  • Crewe responded quite well to going behind but it was still against the run of play when their farcical equalizer was poked home by Callum Ainley. Coppinger gave the ball away, Lund was out of position and Matthews should have claimed the cross but only Cedric Evina will know what he was doing trying to chest the ball down in his six yard box. Evina will be thrown under the bus for this admittedly terrible error but he has shown time and time again that he isn’t defensively good enough to play left back and should be employed further forward. The goal summed up Rovers season.
  • The worst part about Crewe’s equalizer is that it came about through a lack of technical ability. If Evina was confident in using his right foot he could have easily cleared the ball to safety. Instead he was forced to try and chest it. A league 1 footballer should be happy using both feet. No excuses.
  • If their first goal was classic Rovers than Crewe’s second goal was Rovers in exelcis. A terrible combination of Taylor-Sinclair and McCullough somehow allowed an easy finish for Marcus Haber. The amount of individual errors those two players have made this season is almost unbelievable.
  • Here are some adjectives: abysmal, embarrassing, disgraceful, woeful, shameful, heartless, dismal, clueless. Pick as many of them as you want to describe Rovers second half performance. All of them are accurate. When the fans demanded a reaction they instead got a team of disinterested players bottling it. They should all be deeply ashamed. Rovers fans sang that the players were not fit to wear the shirt. They aren’t even fit to step foot on a football pitch. With the exception of Coppinger, Butler, Rowe and begrudgingly Williams, every one of those players should be looking for a new club next season.
  • The manager of course must take a large slice of the responsibility as well and the decision to bring on Mandeville for Tyson was not just odd it was downright negligent. The fact that Rovers only decent chance of the second half fell for Mandeville was telling. The young striker opted to take the ball wide when through on goal before squaring to nobody. Not good enough.
  • Some of the players dropped to their knees at the final whistle. I’m sorry but if they cared that much Rovers would not be in this mess. The time to show emotion had long since passed. Ferguson going straight down the tunnel was also telling. He said after the game that Rovers fans should expect big changes. The first one should be a change of manager. Ferguson has failed in every single remit he was tasked with this season. The Rovers fans deserve a fresh start on their return to league 2 next season.

Winners

Crewe Alexandra – It is a sorry state of affairs when an already relegated team clearly wants it more but they really did. Credit to the Alex. They deserved it. I still can’t condone a team with nothing to play for taking the ball to the corner flag mind.

Tommy  Rowe – The only bright star in an otherwise shocking performance. The boards first priority should be trying to sign Rowe permanently in the summer.

Crewe Alexandra youth players – With kick off bizarrely delayed for 30 minutes we were treated to an on pitch performance from the Crewe youth team. It was of much better quality than the senior game that was to follow.

Losers

The Entire Rovers Squad – I hope they are really fucking hurting right now. They brought this completely on themselves.

Rovers ‘fans’ – Refused to go down with dignity with seats being ripped up and yet more pyro from the juvenile section of the crowd. We also must have the ugliest fan base in English football. Some real mutants in the away end at Gresty Road.

Darren Ferguson – If he had anything about him he would quit.

Doncaster Rovers vs Crewe Alexandra – Preview

Shrewsbury’s shock victory at Gillingham has left Rovers with a mountain to climb but an upturn in performances and results is at least a welcome change of fortunes.

Donny produced one of the Keepmoat Stadiums finest ever moments against Crewe earlier in the season with Cameron Stewart and Andy Williams both scoring in injury time to secure an unlikely 3-2 win. Alex have won only once since that game, a 2-0 home victory against Rochdale back in February, and it is not hyperbolic to suggest that anything other than a victory would be a massive disappointment regardless of the criteria for avoiding relegation.

There are three teams that could save Darren Ferguson’s side in Fleetwood, Chesterfield and Shrewsbury but just one win from each of them would effectively send Rovers down, barring the reds making up a 10 goal swing against Fleetwood.

Surprisingly, Crewe manager Steve Davis is the sixth longest serving manager in all four English leagues and The Railwaymen appear to be keeping faith with him for next seasons promotion push. Crewe will have a massive say in who will join them in the fourth tier as they travel to Fleetwood on the final day.

In team news, Gary McSheffrey has had a positive influence at the Keepmoat but will miss the final two games with a knee injury. Nathan Tyson will be looking to replace the Scunthorpe loanee after his assist in last weekend’s comprehensive victory over Coventry City. Other than that Darren Ferguson will be hoping to name an unchanged side for what it is a vital game.

As a fan base all we can ask is for Rovers to win their final two games, if they do that we stand a decent chance of staying up. There is no way Donny are one of the worst four teams in the league on paper but they deserve to be where they are in the league table after a rotten run. It is up to the players and the manager to show that they deserve their place in league 1.

Match Prediction Crewe 0-2 DRFC (Williams, Calder)

Calder has got better with each passing game and is due a goal in what should be another comprehensive victory. Provided Rovers can grab an early goal they should have too much for a poor Crewe side.

 

Doncaster Rovers vs Coventry City – Report

A dominant Rovers display keeps slim survival hopes alive…

  • The injury to Richard Chaplow caused an enforced line up change as Riccardo Calder was brought in. Other than that it was more of the same as ATS continued to sit out.
  • Rovers dominated the early exchanges and got the goal they deserved on 21 minutes when Gary McSheffrey’s near post corner was flicked into the net by Tommy Rowe. 1-0.
  • McSheffrey’s exemplary set pieces have made the difference in Rovers last 3 games, with 4 goals coming directly from corners. It was concerning to see the Scunthorpe loanee limp off with a jarred knee. Early reports do not sound promising. Expect to see a lot of James Coppinger’s corners hitting the first man in the final two matches.
  • Nathan Tyson replaced McSheffrey and instantly looked bright and made a nuisance of himself. It was his determination to get to the byline, as well as a pinpoint cross, that led to the second goal as Andy Williams headed home at the far post. 2-0 and cruising.
  • The expected Coventry fight back never materialized as Rovers served up what was possibly their best first half performance at home all season. It’s a shame they waited until the penultimate home game of the season to do so.
  • Rovers started the second half as brightly as they had the first and always looked the more likely to score as the Sky Blues struggled to get a foot hold in the game. Deserved man of the match Tommy Rowe dominated the midfield with Alcock and particularly Butler looking strong at the back. Butler has been magnificent in recent games and is hitting peak form at just the right time.
  • Other than a smart save low down from Remi Matthews, a disappointing Coventry side were totally overran as Rovers gave a master class in how to shut down a game. Donny had 60% possession, more shots on target and more corners in a win that never felt under threat.

Winners

Tommy Rowe – Assured in possession, worked hard and took his goal brilliantly. Harry Middleton has had a decent breakthrough season for Rovers but how different things could be had we been able to call on Rowe for the entirety of the season.

Rovers defence – A first clean sheet since 23rd of January, the first win and a clean sheet since 2nd January and the first win and a clean sheet at home since 24th of November (!). More of the same in the final two games please.

Fans of drama – Once again it appears likely that Rovers will go into the final game of the season with everything to play for. Rovers fans have had a lot to grumble about these past few years but it certainly hasn’t been boring.

Tyson/Williams – A strike partnership that looked so deadly at the turn of the year has finally been revived after months of inactivity. It is vital for Rovers survival hopes that their understanding continues into the final two games.

Losers

Richard Chaplow – Despite having a fine pedigree, this has been a poor season for Chaplow and he should be one that is moved on in what should be an inevitable summer clear out. Rovers looked a far better side with Calder in for Chaplow with the Aston Villa loanee tracking back defensively as well as causing problems going forward.

Coventry City – A limp and turgid performance from a side who still harboured hopes of reaching the play offs. One of the easiest games Rovers have enjoyed all season.

Sportsmanship – Whilst it was generally agreed that allowing Bury to equalize on the opening day of the season was the correct course of action, how we could desperately use those 2 dropped points now. If Rovers do go down by a margin of 2 points or less, they will basically have been punished for adhering to fair play. After the farce of the abandoned game at Charlton during our last relegation, this would be particularly galling.

Doncaster Rovers vs Coventry City – Preview

After Tuesday night’s hard fought but ultimately disappointing draw, Rovers margin for error is now zero. Darren Ferguson said in midweek that Donny now must win their three remaining games to stay up and he is almost certainly correct.

The worry about Rovers recent mini resurgence is that despite improved performances in the last two games, all four goals have come from corners or penalties. Rovers need to find a way to score goals and they need to do it now. Andy Williams has weighed in with 15 goals this season but time has run out for him to regain his form. The former Swindon striker has scored once in his last 17 games and he hasn’t scored in open play since the 16th of January. Cometh the hour, cometh the man? It seems unlikely but Williams undoubtedly has the talent.

A midfield lacking creativity also needs to step up and take risks, whilst the much improved defence still has to cut out individual errors for us to have any chance of stopping up. In short, the odds are massively stacked against Rovers and unless every squad member improves, we will be playing League 2 football next season.

Coventry would have expected to at least be cementing a playoff place but the Sky Blues currently find themselves 6 points and 5 places outside of the top 6. Two recent impressive wins against Bradford and Millwall will have buoyed City and it will be no easy task for Rovers against a side who are also scrapping for points.

Coventry have a wealth of experience to choose from with Joe Cole (56 England caps) likely to come up against Luke McCullough… A frightening prospect. Elsewhere, striker Adam Armstrong has scored 19 league goals this season at a rate of 1 goal every 166 minutes and former Rovers striker Marc Antoine-Fortune can barely get in the side. A lot to ponder for Darren Ferguson’s men.

Match Prediction DRFC 1-2 Coventry City (Coppinger)

Expect a battling performance, relentless pressure and a last minute winner from Coventry. In short, the story of our season.

 

Doncaster Rovers vs Chesterfield – Match Report

A fighting performance is not enough for struggling Rovers…

  • Darren Ferguson’s starting line-up was both expected and correct with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair finally dropped for Cedric Evina. Whilst Evina didn’t cover himself in glory, particularly in the first half, the defence in general was much more solid without ATS in it.
  • Rovers scored twice from set pieces against Wigan last week and it took just six minutes for the same to happen again on Tuesday night. Gary McSheffrey’s excellent corner was tapped in by a totally unmarked Tommy Rowe at the back post. 1-0.
  • Donny’s lead didn’t last long however and just 12 minutes later the Spireites were level. Tommy Rowe gave too much time to Jay O’ Shea, Remi Matthews could only parry the resulting shot and Mitchell Lund was nowhere near Gboly Ariyibi as the American winger slotted home. It was yet another soft and preventable goal, in a season that has been littered with them.
  • Chesterfield perhaps had the better of the first half with Evina consistently isolated and outnumbered and Andy Williams ploughing a lone furrow up front. The latter had Rovers best chance of the first half but could only head wide at the back post.
  • Rovers came out stronger in the second half and eventually dominated. McCullough had been naïve in his positioning in the first half but his range and quality of passing was a joy to behold in the second, with Coppinger also causing problems.
  • Whilst there was no doubting the effort there was simply not enough creativity or guile as a Sam Hird inspired defence held firm. Chaplow in particular was guilty of being ponderous and unimaginative in position.
  • Andy Williams faded completely in the second half and perhaps should have been hauled off earlier. It was ironic then to see Curtis Main scoring for Oldham on a night when Rovers so desperately need a goal. More than anything else, allowing Jones, Wellens, Forrester and Main to leave has probably defined our season.
  • Despite constant late pressure, neither team could muster up a shot on target in a physical match that lacked quality. However, it is not 1-1 draws away at Chesterfield that will relegate Rovers but soft goals, no creativity and bad luck
  • On the subject of bad luck, Rovers had a seemingly perfectly good goal disallowed for the second time in recent weeks. When it rains, it pours.

 

Winners

Rovers fans – 905 fans for a Tuesday night at Chesterfield is excellent and the Rovers faithful were in good voice throughout. One thing we can all agree on is that as a fan base we definitely deserve better.

Andy Butler – A second successive man of the match performance from Doncaster born Andy Butler and the experienced centre back is leading from example at the back. If we do go down, Darren Ferguson’s first priority should be keeping Andy Butler.

Luke McCullough – Still needs to work on his positioning but Luke McCullough is at last justifying his place in the team. McCullough will never be as good at unlocking a defence as Welllens or Coppinger but his ball retention is much better.

Curtis Main – Oldham are safe thanks to a Curtis Main goal. The young striker has gone from zero to hero in a few short months.

Losers

Andy Williams – Rather than being buoyed by his recent goal against Wigan, Andy Williams was even more isolated and frustrated than ever. The manager must take some responsibility but Williams is talented enough to make his own chances.

Mitchell Lund – Nobody could have foreseen Lund playing as many games as he has this season. He has definitely come on leaps and bounds from the early stage of the season but the lack of competition for the right back spot has cost Rovers dearly. Lund lacked concentration defensively and was sluggish going forward against Chesterfield and he is indicative of the lack of quality inherent throughout the squad.

Remi Matthews – The options for the goalkeeper when saving a shot are hold it or parry it to safety, Matthews did neither for Chesterfield’s equalizer and Rovers were punished for it. Stuckmann has probably been our best player this season overall and Matthews has dropped more howlers than the Big German already in much fewer games. Nobody would begrudge Stuckmann a place in the starting line up for the Coventry game.

Doncaster Rovers vs Chesterfield – Preview

Well that made things interesting… Rovers stunning 3-1 victory over Wigan was as unexpected as it was timely and the trip to the Proact Stadium now takes on a different meaning. What should have been a chance to instil some pride in an ultimately meaningless game is now a vital game in the race for survival.

The odds are still stacked against Rovers but a stunning second half performance has at least given Donny a chance at an unlikely Hail Mary. Darren Ferguson will probably stick with a winning side, with the only likely change being Evina in for Taylor-Sinclair at left back.

Rovers are unbeaten in 8 games against the Spireites, in a run going back to 2005 and indeed won the reverse fixture 3-0 back in November, with goals coming from Tyson, Williams and Stewart. A similar result could potentially see Rovers just 3 points from safety and with Fleetwood and Oldham facing tough away trips to Millwall and Southend respectively, a positive result becomes even more important.

Chesterfield have relegation worries of their own, sitting just 4 points above the drop zone. Danny Wilson’s men have had a season to forget and find themselves suffering from inconsistent form, including 2 wins, 2 defeats and a draw in their last 5 games. Rovers should be buoyed not just following the victory over Wigan, but also Chesterfields drubbing at the hands of Sheffield United with Billy Sharp notching the final goal for the Blades on Saturday.

Dean Saunders’ former side include former Rover and handsome chap Sam Hird, as well as experienced strikers Lee Novak and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake in their ranks, and with Andy Williams finally back on the score sheet it could be a high scoring game at the Proact Stadium on Tuesday night.

Match Prediction Chesterfield 2-3 DRFC (Williams 2, Rowe)

Why not? If Brentford taught us on anything it is that anything in football is possible. We have come to expect a show stopping end to the season as Rovers fans and if we play like we did in the second half against Wigan, we have every chance of securing another dramatic victory.